Property Loss: The Correct Response. A Homeowner s Guide To Disaster Recovery

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1 Property Loss: The Correct Response A Homeowner s Guide To Disaster Recovery

2 Property Loss 1 Introduction Letter Suffering a loss caused by fire, water, or wind is a terrible thing. It can throw your life into chaos, and evoke a storm of emotions. In a difficult time such as this, you need assistance and support. Because FirstOnSite Restoration has helped thousands of others recover from similar disasters, we understand, and we can help. We re here to support you to reduce the impact of a loss and to restore you to the position you were in prior to the loss. We respond to emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. FirstOnSite Restoration is the nation s leading restoration contractor. We are the most experienced in the business and demonstrate the highest standard of professionalism. This informative guide is designed to help you work effectively with your insurance company and all those involved in the restoration process. If you are reviewing it as a preparatory measure, please take a moment now to fill in the appropriate phone numbers and other relevant information on page 36. Hopefully you will never need to use this guide. But if you do, we hope you ll find it helpful and comforting to know what to expect in the event of an emergency. With all good wishes, FirstOnSite Restoration

3 2 Property Loss Fire, water, wind and mould damage occur with a wide range of severity, from minor damage to the total destruction of a building and its contents. If you were to experience such a loss, the results could range from a temporary inconvenience to major tragedy. Whatever the severity, you would most likely find yourself in unfamiliar territory. On top of the disruption of your daily routine, you would have to make decisions that may have a long-term impact on your personal and financial affairs. This booklet describes the considerations and approaches typically taken by restoration companies and gives you a step-by-step guide as to what you may expect in the event of such an emergency. We have divided this information into two parts: Part 1: What you need to know in an emergency (page 3) This section is a concise synopsis of what to do if you suffer a loss, and what to expect during the restoration and claim process. Part 2: Details about us and the restoration process (page 11) This section provides detailed information about who we are and what we do to restore your home and property to its pre-loss condition. Questions? For many of you, this will be the first (and often only time) that you will have to deal with an insurance claim involving your property, and you are bound to have a lot of questions. That s what we re here for. If at any time you are wondering about the process and what will happen next, please call or us at the number/address provided on page 36, we will be happy to help you.

4 Property Loss 3 Part 1 What Now? This is often the first question that pops to mind when you are confronted with unexpected damage to your home and/or property. You need to make two phone calls (page 36): Your insurance agent/broker - to start the claim process. FirstOnSite Restoration - to start the recovery and restoration process. Then: Read the DOs and DON Ts section provided later in this booklet that relates to the type of loss you have experienced (i.e., fire damage, water damage, etc.), and follow the suggestions. Key Parties Assisting You During A Claim Insurance Broker/Agent - the person/company that helped you purchase your insurance policy. Insurer (Insurance Company) - the company that holds your insurance policy. Final decisions regarding coverage of your claim are made by your insurance company. Insurance Adjuster - this is an individual assigned by your insurance company to review your claim. Restoration Contractor - that s US! We work together with you and your insurance company to restore your property.

5 4 Property Loss What Happens Next? There are essentially three phases to disaster recovery: The Emergency Phase: Emergency remediation and stabilization. The Estimate Phase: Listing of repairs and preparing an estimate. The Repair Phase: Repairing your home and restoring your belongings to their pre-loss state. The Emergency Phase The first 24 hours of most emergencies are CRITICAL. We need to act quickly to stabilize the situation and prevent further damage to your home and property, and to minimize dangers to your own health and safety. FirstOnSite is available to respond to emergency calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the event of a loss due to fire and or water, the first thing we will determine is the safety and habitability of your home or business. We consider: Structural damage which could make the building unsafe Presence of mould Sewer backup contamination Biohazards Smoke toxicity Immune compromised occupants

6 Property Loss 5 Once the safety issues have been assessed, the next priority is to preserve your: Dwelling Clothing Precious belongings Electronics Furnishings Artwork It is important that individuals with the proper experience and expertise are brought in to evaluate the loss when it has just happened. Delayed action or the wrong action can unnecessarily delay restoration and can increase both damage and cost. At this time we must determine whether you need to vacate your home, and if so, we ll help you to retrieve the things you need. Most insurers will authorize us to perform emergency work before obtaining estimates, using predetermined unit prices and rates. Your Privacy and Confidentiality FirstOnSite strictly adheres to our published privacy policy. As professionals we respect your privacy and you can rest assured that all documents or personal items handled by our firm are safe, secure, and protected from any other party. Please ask for a copy of our privacy policy.

7 6 Property Loss The Estimate Phase Once the situation has been stabilized, FirstOnSite Restoration begins the process of evaluating the damage to determine what repairs are needed. We prepare a detailed scope of the work that will be required to restore your home to its pre-loss state and determine the cost of the work. In addition, we examine your home s contents. They are categorized into three groups: Unaffected Restorable Non-restorable We use state-of-the-art equipment and processes to make your precious belongings like new. See page 29 for details. Items that are non-restorable are listed for you so that you can work with your insurance company for replacement. The Repair Phase Once the insurance company has authorized the work, FirstOnSite gets busy fixing the damage to your home and property. Once complete, everything will be returned to its pre-loss state. The activities of this phase are described in detail starting on page 23.

8 Property Loss 7 If You Must Vacate The Premises During some jobs, it is necessary for you to vacate your premises until a time when it is safe for you to return. This usually happens when your loss is related to fire, smoke, mould and sewer backup and is often discussed between you and your Insurance Adjuster. In the event that you are to be vacated from your home, please review the following list of suggestions so that you are not too inconvenienced during your time away. Pack necessary clothing. If required bag clothing items that are in need of laundering or dry-cleaning. We will clean them promptly and return them to you. Medications and prescriptions. If your prescriptions were contaminated in any way during the loss, please take them with you and call your pharmacist to advise them of the situation. Keep your receipts for your Insurance Adjuster. Personal hygiene and cosmetic items. As a general rule, if these items were in any way contaminated we recommend you replace them, keeping your receipts for your Insurance Adjuster. Gather important items such as insurance policies, keys, passports, the deed to your home, stocks and bonds, birth certificates, credit cards, bank cards, vehicle registration, driver s license and any other forms of identification you may need. Notify the following of your temporary address and phone number: assigned project manager, your insurance agent and adjuster, family, friends, post office, bank, utility companies and newspaper delivery. Make arrangements for pets.

9 8 Property Loss What You Can Do To Help The Process Along Communication is key to getting the job done. When we are given multiple contact information options, our job is that much easier. A key to your home will enable us to get the work done more quickly. If there are concerns regarding accessing your home, please let us know so that we can make alternative arrangements. NOTE: Drying or Air Scrubbing Equipment: In order to properly dry or deodourize your home, it is important that all equipment is left running. If you have any concerns about equipment please contact us. When decisions are needed regarding items like paint colours, flooring, cabinetry, etc., make the decisions promptly. Once you ve made your selections, let us know what you ve chosen so that we can keep the ball rolling. Complete paperwork as soon as possible and return it without delay to us or to your insurance company (as appropriate). Your prompt action will ensure that your home returns to normal as quickly as possible.

10 Property Loss 9 The Paperwork Not surprisingly, there is a lot of paperwork involved in dealing with damage or loss of property. Here is a summary of what to expect. Note: Please remember to read all forms thoroughly before signing. FirstOnSite Forms and Documents Work Authorization: This form must be signed before we can start any work, including emergency clean-up and stabilization. It provides your legal authorization for our company to handle your emergency. It also contains other agreements such as full access to your premises, permission to use your utilities, washroom facilities and other amenities. Pack-Out Control Sheets: If contents need to be removed from your home, we will ask you to provide sign-off authorization indicating that you are aware of what has been removed. Scope of Work: This document will list in detail all the work that needs to be performed to repair your home and restore its contents. It will be submitted to the insurance company for authorization before the repair and restoration work begins. Additional Work Variance: You may want to have some additional work done beyond the scope that has been sent to your insurance company. Your signature will indicate your agreement to pay us these costs personally upon completion. A deposit will be required before any extra work will begin. Certificate of Satisfaction: Upon completion, your signature on this form indicates that you are satisfied, that all work has been completed and that the insurance company is authorized to issue payment. Completion Certificate: This document contains our warranty. Survey: You will be mailed a survey at the conclusion of the job to record your important comments and observations.

11 10 Property Loss Insurance Forms and Documents Schedule of Loss: On this form you will list all items that are non-restorable and so identified for replacement. You will need to include, as far as possible, their make and model numbers, where they were purchased and their original cost. Although this process is time consuming, it may have a direct impact on how quickly your claim is finalized. In fact, replacement of your belongings may be delayed until these forms are completed. Planning to tackle this task early in the process will help it move along quickly. Proof of Loss: When your claim is complete your insurance company will require you to sign this document showing your agreement with the settlement of the claim. Invoicing and Payment Normally, all invoices for work performed are sent directly to the insurance adjuster who arranges payment through your insurance company. At times the insurance company will issue a co-payable cheque that will require a signature from you for us to receive payment. We will call and make arrangements to obtain your signature should the need arise. Deductible When you buy an insurance policy you agree to pay the first portion of any loss, called the deductible. This deductible applies only once per occurrence regardless of how many items are claimed, and typically ranges from $500 - $1,000. We require payment of the deductible prior to starting repair work. Payment can be made by credit card or personal cheque. If there is a problem with payment of your deductible, please contact your insurance adjuster or estimator/project manager right away.

12 Property Loss 11 Part 2 About Us 12 Who We Are 12 Our Relationship With Your Insurance Company 13 Who Will Do the Work 13 A Green Approach 14 Quality Assurance Program 15 Our Warranty 15 Type of Losses 16 Fire Damage 16 Fire Damage DOs and DON Ts 17 Smoke Damage 18 Water Damage or Sewer Backup 18 Water Damage DOs and DON Ts 20 Mould Abatement 21 Mould Abatement DOs and DON Ts 22 Oil Spills 22 Repairing Your Home 23 Scope of Work 23 Scheduling and Delays 24 Considerations During Construction 25 Restoring Your Belongings 27 The Pack-Out 27 What Happens To My Things 28 The Cleaning Process 28 Missing Items 30 Pre-Planning Tips 31 Frequently Asked Questions 32 Your Important Contact Information 36

13 12 Property Loss About Us Who We Are FirstOnSite Restoration is the largest national restoration company in Canada, and we have been offering Emergency Response services for many years. We bring stateof-the-art technology, equipment and expertise to restore your property and assist you through your claim. What Is A Restoration Contractor? Restoration contractors are specially trained and certified technicians and tradespersons who specialize in restoring damaged homes and property. There are many good building contractors, and many good cleaning companies, but very few combine both of these trades. We do, and more! We have trained and become certified in several technical fields under the guidance of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration (IICRC) which is the North American authority on the kinds of services we provide. We are also members of the Certified Contents Restoration Network (CCRN). We are experts in losses or disasters of all types: water, sewer, wind, fire, smoke, mould, oil spills, trauma, vehicle impact and our divisions have the equipment, machinery, and solutions needed to handle the specialized processes you are about to undergo. We use very specialized equipment to perform the services we provide. Using this equipment, we are able to restore items that many might consider irretrievably ruined. We maintain large climate controlled warehouses especially for contents cleaning and storage. All of this is required to properly handle and restore your valued belongings.

14 Property Loss 13 Our Relationship With Your Insurance Company We are an independent contracting company. We are not employees of (nor a branch of) your insurance company. Your insurance company has performed a thorough inspection of our capabilities, credentials, and our training certifications. In most cases, we have been designated a preferred contractor. You are our customer and your insurance company pays for repairs on your behalf. As the contractor, we are responsible to you for all of the work and scheduling of repairs. If there are problems or questions once the work commences, please give us a call. Who Will Do the Work? At FirstOnSite Restoration, we maintain a crew of qualified professionals. We have specialized technicians on staff for water, mould, smoke and fire remediation. We also maintain crews of carpenters, drywallers, painters and cleaners. Depending on the nature of the task, we will make arrangements to have the correct staff member come to your home to get the job done. Sub-Trades We also use many local sub-trades including electricians, plumbers, flooring companies and appliance technicians. They are hired by us and therefore must perform to our standards. Over the years, we have established a group of the very highest quality subtrades and we treat them as partners in our business. Consequently, they consistently provide us with quality workmanship and responsive service. Should you have any concerns about the people working on your job, please contact your FirstOnSite Project Manager immediately.

15 14 Property Loss A Green Approach FirstOnSite is committed to a cleaner environment and so we use products and technology that have the least impact on the indoor and outdoor environment while being effective in restoring buildings and contents. We take a responsible approach by selecting product manufacturers who have products tested and certified to be safe. We also may employ technology such as dry ice cleaning which is highly effective and safe. CO2 Cleaning: Advanced dry-ice cleaning is an environmentally safe way to remove contaminants from building surfaces. Hydroxyl: We use deodourizing equipment which cleans the air in your home and naturally deodourizes. This process is highly effective in removing odours associated with smoke and other contaminants.

16 Property Loss 15 Quality Assurance Program We understand that experiencing property damage can be stressful. We have made a commitment to you through our Quality Assurance Program to: Be available 24/7 for emergency response. Contact you immediately after receiving the claim to determine a convenient time to meet with you. Provide trained technicians to perform necessary steps of restoration in a prompt manner. Clearly explain the process of the insurance claim and answer questions. Communicate with you throughout the claim. Keep your insurance provider informed at all times. FirstOnSite values your opinion. Upon completion of our work, a Quality Questionnaire and Certificate of Completion will be provided to you. We encourage you to contact us at anytime during or after your claim. Our FirstOnSite team understands and is here to help. Our Warranty FirstOnSite Restoration warranties all labour on repairs for a minimum of two years from the completion of the project. We have agreements with some insurance companies that extend this warranty. Our commitment is to honour whichever warranty is longer.

17 16 Property Loss Types of Losses Fire Damage After a fire your personal well-being is our top priority. Where repairs are required, contents are usually prioritized based on their fragility and your needs. We will identify affected contents and prioritize the cleaning and fast return of items that you require right away. Every attempt is made to return these to you within 24 hours of your loss or sooner, if possible. If your home is uninhabitable, your insurance representative will advise you on whether your policy includes coverage for increased costs of temporary lodging until you are able to return. We understand that your home is your own private haven and that the necessity of having strangers in your home at this time can be stressful. We want you to be comfortable with those who will be working with your belongings and in your home. Therefore, you will be introduced to our professionals who will be working for you. Following a fire, you often have to move out of your home while the repairs are taking place. On page 17 you will find a list of things to keep in mind when vacating your premises. Depending on the severity of your loss, fire restoration can be a very complicated procedure, which should only be handled by a qualified restoration contractor. It can include the tearing out of damaged materials, water extraction and drying, venting of the premises and addressing safety concerns. The Fire Marshall may be involved as well as building inspectors, and there are building codes and upgrades to consider. Often there must be smoke sealing and deodourization, building codes and upgrades to consider, the trades and sub-trades to schedule, and all of this must be done in a step-by-step process. This complex job requires experience and special equipment.

18 Property Loss 17 Fire Damage DOs and DON Ts While fast action is important; the wrong action can delay or impede recovery. DO Clean and protect chrome trim on taps and kitchen appliances with a light coating of petroleum jelly. Blow off or brush-vacuum loose smoke particles from upholstery, drapes and carpets before normal traffic. Open windows for ventilation. Change furnace filter if blower was operating. Empty freezer and refrigerator completely, ensure the electricity is off and prop open with a rolled newspaper. Wash off laminate counter tops and horizontal surfaces of appliances. Call a plumber to drain heating system if power is off. Turn off electronics, particularly computers in and around the damaged area. DON T Wipe or attempt to wash walls, ceilings or other absorbent surfaces. Use upholstered furniture if it can be avoided. Use food items or canned goods until advised by our technicians. Send smoked garments to a dry cleaner until properly deodourized. Consume any food from open packages in your cupboards.

19 18 Property Loss Smoke Damage Even when a fire is confined to a small area, smoke damage can occur throughout the home. Smoke gets into every nook and cranny of your home, behind wall plugs, in the back of refrigerators, into fabrics and clothing and at times it is impossible to remove. Smoke odour cannot be removed unless the source is removed or treated. One of the more difficult treatments can be to wood products. If the heat is intense enough, the grain in the wood may open, permitting smoke to enter. When the area cools, the grain closes, trapping the smoke. We employ special products and deodourization techniques that restore cabinets and wood to pre-loss condition. More information on the cleaning of smoke damage is provided in the cleaning section, on page 28. Water Damage or Sewer Backup The first 24 hours of any water damage loss is critical. If left unattended or not dried properly, water can cause enormous amounts of damage to your home or business. However, if we are able to be on site within 24 hours we can often save most of the carpet, flooring, and contents. We cannot stress enough the need for professional treatment of water and moisture problems! Fresh Water You may experience a fresh water flood that originated from a broken water pipe or other plumbing fixture in your home. The first step is to limit damage done to your belongings by either removing them from the affected area or by safely protecting them so that extraction of water can get underway. The process of moisture removal involves the combination of air movement, heat and dehumidification. Our technicians test humidity and temperature to determine the best approach to drying your home safely and quickly. This science of drying is called Psychrometry. Our technicians test humidity and temperature to determine the best approach to drying your home safely and quickly.

20 Property Loss 19 Drying the building as quickly as possible will prevent or limit secondary damage such as paint peeling, drywall swelling and mould growth. Restoration after severe situations, though, may require cleaning and/or painting and even extensive repairs. Work based on improper conclusions can cause delays and added costs. In the case of water damage, the use of thermography helps us to determine the location and extent of damage in order to strategically begin restorative drying. Use of Thermal Imaging Cameras Helps To Properly Diagnose Damage Human-Eye View Thermal Imaging Camera View It is extremely important that the dehumidification equipment is left on until the drying process is complete. A technician will visit your home periodically to take moisture readings. Our objective is to reduce the relative humidity to safe levels within the first 24 hours. Sewer When contaminated water is involved, all affected materials (such as carpets and building materials) may be removed and then discarded. Sewer backups pose a very real health risk if not handled properly. Immediate cleaning and disinfecting will be carried out by qualified technicians so that the area is safe and bacteria-free. We use biodegradable and environmentally safe broad spectrum disinfectants. In some cases air scrubbing equipment may be installed to clean the air in the home. In either case, the focus is on safety and the health of the occupants. If mould is found, we are trained in the specialized remediation procedures. For information on mould damage, see page 21.

21 20 Property Loss Water Damage DOs and DON Ts Fast action is important; however, the wrong action can delay or impede recovery. DO Identify the source of incoming water and if possible stop it or call a professional to handle it. Turn off all electrical appliances and electronics in and around the affected area. Remove excess water by mopping or blotting. Remove or elevate furniture off wet areas to prevent permanent stains. Prop-up wet cushions. Wipe water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and table top items. Place aluminium or glass saucers under furniture legs when on wet carpet to prevent possible bleeding of dyes into the carpet below. Move valuable oil paintings and art objects to a safe dry environment. Empty out closet floors, including shoes and cardboard boxes which could cause staining. Call our 24-hour help line for assistance. DON T Turn on ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet and stay away from sagging ceilings. Pull up the carpet and pad. This could cause permanent damage. Leave books and other materials containing water soluble dyes on wet carpets. Attempt to dry carpeting with an electric heater. Turn up the heat above normal room temperature until our technicians have installed dehumidification equipment and evaluated the drying procedure.

22 Property Loss 21 Mould Abatement The growth of mould in a building has been linked to a wide range of health problems from minor to serious. Mould spores are everywhere in our environment, both indoors and outdoors. To multiply and form colonies, they need two things: MOISTURE and a FOOD SOURCE (such as drywall, wood or other building materials). Mould usually grows away from direct sunlight. Once established, mould colonies can grow quickly in some cases they can double in volume every 24 hours. Many things can provide the moisture that mould needs: external sources such as flooding, roof leaks, leaky windows, and sewer back-up, as well as sources such as the steam from showers, cooking, ruptured hot water tanks, leaky pipes, toilet overflow, broken dishwasher hoses, and even high humidity. To remediate, the amount and source of mould is determined first. Remediation may mean removing affected wall material, fabric carpet and in some cases other building materials. This work is carried out under containment to protect the indoor environment during remediation. Exposed building areas are then cleaned and disinfected. Attempting to take remedial action against mould without contacting a professional can have serious consequences. As per the Mould Guidelines for the Canadian Construction Industry, once the visible mould area exceeds 10 sq. ft., the remediation will require that the area is contained, negative air set up and that our staff work in special personal protective equipment. Please stay out of the affected area until the remediation is complete. This will prevent the mould from spreading to non-affected areas of your house, and will protect your health.

23 22 Property Loss When dealing with a moisture and/or mould problem you should deal only with an IICRC Certified contractor who has been trained in proper drying procedures, and in the safe use of anti-microbial treatments. Mould Abatement DOs and DON Ts DO Call a professional to handle it. Mould removal must be carried out under containment. DON T Try to clean it up yourself. In many cases this may cause it to spread. Oil Spills Oil spills pose many unique problems. Not only are they foul-smelling and may make some people nauseous, the fumes can spread throughout your premises and permeate your clothing and fabrics. Very often the oil can seep under the concrete basement slab making it necessary to remove this concrete floor and the soil beneath, in order to remove the source of the fumes. Oil can contaminate a river, stream or a well. There is also the possibility of a lawsuit being started by a neighbour who has had their property damaged by the escaping oil from your property. Oil spill clean-up is a slow process and it can take months to remediate a property. PLEASE NOTE: FirstOnSite does not possess site control over the work that takes place at an oil spill site. We do not have the expertise to handle the required lab analysis of contaminated soil. We provide the necessary labour and equipment to make the job run as smoothly as possible under the direction of an environmental engineer, often with the involvement of government as well as a qualified insurance adjuster.

24 Property Loss 23 Repairing Your Home Scope of Work Before beginning any repair or restoration work, your insurance representative will meet with you to assess damages, discuss your policy particulars and take a statement from you as to what occurred. Also, an estimator will prepare a Scope of Work document that describes in detail the work to be done as part of the insurance claim. We will take the time to discuss the scope of work and will ensure that both you and your insurance company are fully aware of the amount and type of work to be done, timelines, and the outcomes that are to be agreed upon. Your insurance company must also provide authorization for work to begin. As a general rule, we are under very specific guidelines as to what is to be repaired as part of the insurance claim. Decisions regarding what is covered are made by your insurance adjuster, and are stated in the Scope of Work document. It is very important that you understand that FirstOnSite does not determine what is, or is not, covered by your policy, and we NEVER attempt to interpret your coverage. Please review and understand exactly what is outlined in the Scope of Work. If we discover extra work which should be part of the claim we must get authorization from your adjuster. As the restoration process proceeds there are many decisions to be made including those relating to cost effectiveness. You will play a key role in this process along with your adjuster and restoration provider to ensure that valuable dollars are used where they will benefit you the most. Changes and Upgrades Code Upgrades: Structural and electrical work are subject to current building codes. FirstOnSite s commitment is to always complete work according to these established codes to ensure the safety of you and our workers. If there are any code upgrades required, we will notify you immediately. Please note that some code upgrades may not

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